I believe in the power of local knowledge. It is only by suspending our own assumptions about people, places and problems that we can be guided by ‘local ways of seeing’. Ultimately, it is this local knowledge which enables the design of grounded solutions that are more relevant, meaningful and impactful in the lives of those they aim to serve.
Ruth is cultural researcher and ethnographer with nearly 20 years experience of
designing and managing research programmes to understand complex social
development challenges and support positive social change in international settings.
She has a particular interest in using ethnographic principles and approaches and
collaborative methodologies, such as participatory and peer led research methods, to
help organisations working in humanitarian and development sectors to better
understand the local contexts in which they work, or want to work. She is an expert in
designing and leading research, especially where diverse local contexts are involved
and where methodological approaches need to be rooted in local concepts and
understandings, drawing on highly contextual and decolonized approaches.
Ruth has worked internationally for community-based organisations, NGOs and social
enterprises, international NGOs, national governments, the United Nations and private
sector trusts and foundations. Her career began in West Africa and she has since
worked extensively in Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as in Asia and the UK. Ruth holds a
PhD in Development Geography and is an Associate Researcher at the Centre for
Research on Families and Relationships at the University of Edinburgh in the UK.
Ruth’s interest in working with Sonder comes from a desire to leverage deep
understanding about cultural systems in diverse international contexts to inform design
processes and solutions. She also shares Sonder’s passion for collaborative and cross-